On A Diet: Change, Identity, and Food

No junk food, processed food, fried food, carbohydrates, whole grain, fatty foods, or refined sugars. Everything has to be organic from now on. That’s my diet. More than halfway through 2020, due to health reasons, I had to go on this diet. Up until that point, those things were all I ate. 

In the beginning, I would be jealous when someone ate spam at the table. I felt as if they were taunting me, even if I knew they weren’t, and they were just eating their breakfast in peace. I would bear with it, keeping in mind that I am doing this for my health, eating the bowl of cereal. I had this every day, which worked well for me. If I was in the mood for snacks, which I always am, I ate nuts such as cashews and almonds, or even the cereal I had for breakfast with milk or yogurt.  

After a period of time, I got too used to this everyday routine. Eating cereal made me tired. There was no variation, and even if I am a creature of habit, I do enjoy eating different types of foods. There were days when I even stopped looking forward to breakfast since I was too familiar with the cereal’s flavors and could already taste them in my mouth. I love eating breakfast and I should always be excited about it, it’s the most important meal of the day after all. On top of that, more than ever, seeing the scrumptious processed foods on the table made me jealous. It made me miss the foods I couldn’t eat, which made it harder to stick to the diet. It made me crave it and tempted me to break my diet, like they were calling out to me, “Eat me, eat me.” To control my appetite, I remind myself about my health. I ate my meal out of necessity, but I didn’t enjoy it like I used to. 

pancakes with berries Photo by Mathilda Khoo from Unsplash Instead of sulking in my misery, I decided to go on YouTube and watch various videos on healthy alternatives. A video I came across was Tasty’s “Nutritious Pancakes 4 Ways,” I sent it to my helper, or Yaya, and talked to her about my breakfast menu and if we can possibly have a variety of foods. We did just that. One day, I went downstairs and saw a plate of fluffy banana pancakes with honey for me. As I put it in my mouth, my taste buds were jumping for joy due to the burst of flavor in my mouth, as if they were saying, “Finally something new.” This made my day and put me back in that breakfast-loving mood. From then on, my breakfast menu has been expanding, besides banana pancakes, now I have oatmeal, organic peanut butter sandwiches, wheat flour pancakes, even brown rice, a sunny-side-up egg, and salty dried fish, otherwise known as Tuyo. 

I still get frustrated that I can’t eat bacon, spam, or Vienna sausage, I think I always will, but it wasn’t as difficult as before. It made it easier to stick to my diet because my cravings were satisfied, and I would find myself wanting second rounds of the food I ate. I also realized that it made it effortless, and at times, I could forget I was on a diet. I felt satisfied and better all at the same time. When I do this for weeks on end or more, I am proud that I am following through on this diet. 

After a couple of months, I have been starting to see a difference in my health and myself. First, I’ve lost weight and I am not as heavy as I once was. It boosts my confidence and self-esteem a bit when people tell me I have lost weight since I am insecure about my body. The validation is great, nevertheless, as much as possible, I try not to be reliant on it. This is only the second best part of this journey. What reigns supreme is that I am able to see small changes like experiencing less abdominal pain to none at all. Hopefully, a sign that my health has improved. As for myself, when I follow the diet and eat healthy foods, I feel happy and proud that I am putting my best foot forward. Everything is going as planned. Furthermore, that food truly can affect and alter how my body works, it can make it better or worse. 

With this challenge out of the way, a new obstacle presents itself. As I mentioned, I am a creature of habit. Early on in my diet, I learned that when I cheat big time, meaning a week or more, I get so accustomed to the flavors that returning to the regular routine is a challenge in itself. To deal with this, usually, I continue to ingrain in my head, “This is for my health, keep pushing,” and deprive myself of these foods to get back on track. However, recently, I find myself stress eating. I take whatever I am craving, put it in my mouth, and eat it with glee and guilt. Yet, even when I am sidetracked I learn a lot. For me, this means improving my self-control, so that I don’t eat anything on a whim, and being extra-conscious when I am stressed, overwhelmed, or dealing with high emotions. The last thing I want is my cheat day turning into a cheat year. 

I’m fairly new at this and so I take every day one step at a time. I learn from my mistakes and try to correct them to the best of my ability. This shift in lifestyle may not be a straight line, rather a zig-zag. Nevertheless, I make the most out of it and do what I can to ensure my health is in tip-top shape. It is not impossible to adapt to my new eating habits. There are just a few ingredients to make sure I get the most out of this: a chunk of time, a cup of effort, and a bucket of patience.